Preparing the Candidate for Baptism

The Lord has made baptism an outward sign of entrance into His church.

By MARY E. WALSH, Bible Instructor, Columbia Union, Conference

The Lord has made baptism an outward sign of entrance into His church. Before man can find a home in the church, he must comply with this ordinance, which is also a pre­requisite for entrance to the kingdom of heaven. (John 3 :5 ; Mark 14:116.)

Proper instruction should be given to the one who is to enter into this sacred rite. If this is neglected, a great injustice is wrought not only against the candidate but against the church which he is to join. The Saviour gave very specific counsel as to what should precede bap­tism: "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

To teach means to instruct. We are not left to our own conjecturing as to what should be taught the one preparing for baptism. The in­struction is, "Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." The candidate may be conversant with all points of truth, but still he may not be eligible for church membership. It is important not only that the candidate know the standards, but that he observe, or literally carry out "all things" which Christ has commanded.

Let us consider some of the "all things" which Christ commanded and which must be taught the one preparing for baptism. Of course, we shall present our distinctive doctrinal truths, such as the second coming of Christ, proper ob­servance of the Sabbath, the state of the dead, the sanctuary, the 2300 days, the investigative judgment, and the mark of the beast. Yet if we fail to give proper instruction on such sub­jects as the Spirit of prophecy, the ordinance of humility, amusements, novel reading, danc­ing, card playing, and health reform, we have not produced a finished product. Some feel that to cover all these points is a protracted process, and consequently the rite of baptism is admin­istered before the candidate is fully prepared. But we must ever remember that it is quality and not quantity that God wants.

It is recorded of John the Baptist that when he saw "many" of a certain class of people who came to be baptized, he refused them the rite, and added, "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance : and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham for our father."

As John's ax of truth and standards of right­eousness cut to the core of the unregenerated life, so the ax of the advent message, when given, will produce similar results. Until the fruits of repentance are made manifest, we, like John, should refuse the applicant baptism.

Speaking of baptism, the messenger of the Lord says: "Baptism is a most sacred and im­portant ordinance, and there should be a thor­ough understanding as to its meaning. . . . There should be no undue haste to receive the ordinance."—Testimonies, Vol. VI, p. 93. It is unfair to admit a person into the church with­out first instructing and informing him regard­ing the standards we hold as a people. We may rest assured that it will not be long be­fore some good brother or sister, in a most abrupt manner, will inform the newly admit­ted member that Sister White is our prophetess and that it is wrong to drink tea and coffee. One can imagine the new member's reaction when thus accosted. A situation like this greatly militates against the church, as many of the weaker members may be led to believe that the standards are not so important after all.

"The very first experience should be right." "Give them Bible readings, converse and pray with them, and plainly show the claims of the Lord upon them. Read to them the teaching of the Bible in regard to conversion. Show what is the fruit of conversion, the evidence that they love God. Show that true conver­sion is a change of heart, of thoughts and purposes. Evil habits are to be given up." "There is need of a more thorough preparation on the part of candidates for baptism. They are in need of more faithful instruction than has usually been given them."--Id., pp. 92, 95, 96.

I have found in my experience that it is much easier to get candidates for baptism to conform to the standards before taking the final step in baptism than it is to get them to conform after they are once admitted. As workers we should be able to say with the apostle Paul, "Where­fore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God."

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By MARY E. WALSH, Bible Instructor, Columbia Union, Conference

March 1944

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